Northwest Division Preview: Denver Nuggets


The Denver Nuggets

2013-14 Record: 36-46, 4th in Northwest

The Denver Nuggets weren’t very good last season. They had key injuries throughout the lineup, and none were more devastating than those to Danilo Gallinari and Javale McGee, who both missed pretty much the entire season.

Their front office also took a hit, as they lost highly regarded GM Masai Ujiri to the Toronto Raptors. They also replaced a legend in George Karl with rookie head coach Brian Shaw. Shaw, who is widely respected around the league, didn’t exactly hit the mark in his first season running the team. Needless to say, the Nuggets weren’t set up for success in 2013-14.

But this year should be a different story. They’re injured players are now healthy, they’ve added depth through the draft, and they’ve brought back a fan favorite in Arron Afflalo, who figures to be big part of Denver’s attack going forward. These across the board improvements give Brian Shaw a few more toys to play with this season.

The Roster

The Nuggets are now healthy and they’re deeper than ever. They’re so deep I’m wondering if they think they can play six guys at once or if they’re just worried about once again having their season derailed by injury. Regardless of their motivations, I’m hard pressed to find a single guy on the roster who just isn’t very good.

At point Denver runs with Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson. At the two they have Arron Afflalo, Randy Foye, and Michigan State’s Gary Harris. On the wing they can throw out either Wilson Chandler or Danilo Gallinari. Not too shabby, right?

But it’s the depth in the front court which truly astounds me. They can interchange Kenneth Faried, J.J. Hickson, and Darrell Arthur at the power forward, and at center they can mix minutes with Javale McGee, Timofey Mozgov, and first round pick Jusuf Nurkic.

Denver’s like Charles Bukowski deep. They’re deeper than Deep Blue Sea starring Samuel L. Jackson. Denver’s as deep as Dave Matthews Band. They’re twenty-piece chicken McNuggets deep.

One Dude To Watch Out For

Brian Shaw. Because Denver is so loaded with very good if not truly great players, their success as a team will largely depend on how Shaw can blend the talent together into a consistent rotation. Whether he can do it remains to be seen, but with this kind of swagger it’s kind of difficult to doubt the guy:

The Basketball Horoscope

My psychic pal Madam Fortuna has her finger on the pulse of all things cosmic, and she’s clued me in with some hot tips regarding the Denver Nuggets this upcoming season. She sees a future filled with prosperity for Kenneth Faried, provided he stays out of direct sunlight. She also advises Javale McGee to look before he leaps if he wants to avoid public shame and embarrassment. It should be stated that Madam Fortuna knows literally nothing about basketball…

The Real Outlook

Denver will be better this season, and if they were in the Eastern Conference I would go ahead and guarantee that they make the playoffs, probably as no less than a five or six seed. But this isn’t the East, it’s the wild, wild Western Conference where only the truly strong survive. It’s going to be a dog fight for the final spot, and my best guess is that Denver will be right in the thick of it.

I mean how could they not be? It’s true that they don’t have a superstar player, but they’re just too talented up and down the roster to not accidentally win 40 games next season. If Ty Lawson and coach Brian Shaw find themselves on the same page come spring time, don’t be surprised if Denver is the team OKC or San Antonio doesn’t want to play in the first round of the playoffs.

Cody’s Questions

Obviously the Northwest Division belongs to Oklahoma City. After that, though, I think far too many people assume that the Portland Trail Blazers are the next best team.

I honestly believe if things fall in place, Denver could post a better record than the Blazers this upcoming season. They may not have the star power that Portland has at the top of their roster, but they more than make up for it with their depth and their mile-high home court advantage.

I guess my greatest questions are these: what will it take for Denver to supplant Portland as the second best team, and who will have to step up to make it happen?

2014-2015 Prediction: 45-37, 3rd in Northwest